January 2011 Immigration Newsletter
Welcome to the inaugural Monthly Immigration Newsletter from Gafner Law Firm. The newsletter will provide firm updates, recent immigration news, legislative updates, and recent developments in immigration law. The firm hopes to provide you with a glimpse of the most important developments in immigration.
Readers are welcome to contact Gafner Law Firm if they have a question about the newsletter, or if they would like to schedule a telephone or office consultation. Please contact the firm by calling 646.571.8472, or through its website contact page.
Table of Contents
- Chris Gafner Publishes Article on Attracting the Best and Brightest Immigrants to the United States.
- New Income Levels Announced for I-134 and I-864 Affidavits of Support
- How Many K-1 Visas Are Issued Each Year?
- H-1B Visa To Reach Annual Cap Within Weeks
- USCIS Proposes H-1B Visa Pre-Registration
- New I-129 Form Requires Export Control Acknowledgment By Employers
- Fines following I-9 Audits Rise 1000% in Two Years
- Changes to U.S. Naturalization Test Questions
- New Citizenship Certificate Introduced by State Department
- New Head of Immigration Sub-Committee in House of Representatives
- Chance of Comprehensive Immigration Law Passage?
The firm is pleased to announce that Chris Gafner recently published an immigration article in the Fordham Urban Law Journal. Entitled, Attracting the Best and Brightest: A Critique of the Current U.S. Immigration System, the article examines the current immigration process for attracting the best and brightest immigrants to come into the United States. The article flushes out the subjective and cumbersome nature of the American system and compares it to more objective and streamlined systems in other countries. The article suggests how the United States can improve its approach to attracting the best and brightest.
The article was co-authored with Professor Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell Law School, and is available for reading at this link: Attracting the Best and Brightest: A Critique of the Current U.S. Immigration System.
New Income Levels Announced for I-134 and I-864 Affidavits of Support
Each year, the Government updates its poverty guidelines. These guidelines are important to family-based immigrants because it changes the income level necessary to qualify as an affidavit of support sponsor. Sponsors who must complete an I-134 Affidavit of Support must meet 100% of the poverty level. Sponsors who must complete an I-864 Affidavit of Support must have income above 125% of the poverty level. The new income levels are listed on the firm’s website.
How Many K-1 Visas Are Issued Each Year?
Many of you are currently waiting for your fiancé or fiancée to obtain a visa to come into the United States. It might comfort you that there are many other applicants who are in the same position. Here are the Government’s statistics on how many K-1 visas are issued each year.
|Fiscal Year||Number of K-1 Visas Issued|
H-1B Visa To Reach Annual Cap Within Weeks
The annual cap on H-1B visas will soon be reached. Currently, the United States allows 65,000 H-1B visas to be issued each year. Currently, 60,700 have been filled this year and it is likely that the annual cap will be met in February (if not before).
Once the cap is reached, H-1B applicants will need to wait until April before filing for a new H-1B. Applicants who apply in April will not be able to begin working before October 1st.
USCIS Proposes H-1B Visa Pre-Registration
The USCIS has proposed a system that will allow companies interested in obtaining the H-1B visa to “pre-register” before the H-1B Cap Date (on April 1st each year). If enacted, the proposal will limit the transactional expense of both the USCIS and employers.
Currently, H-1B employers must complete a full petition before knowing whether they will be in the first 65,000 H-1B visas that are made available each year. With the proposed system, companies will be able to register, find out if they are within the 65,000 visas, and then will need to complete the full H-1B petition.
Currently, the process is only a proposal. If the proposal is adopted, it is my guess that the proposal will not go into effect until April 2012 (if it is enacted – a big if).
The USCIS introduced a new I-129 form in December. The I-129 form is used in most nonimmigrant visa applications for employees coming into the United States for short term employment. A major change in the new form is the requirement that the employer acknowledge that they have complied with U.S. export control laws. Export control laws apply to the knowledge and access that nonimmigrant employees are given to sensitive scientific and technological knowledge.
Although the export control laws have been on the books for many years, this form is the first time that the immigration agency has required potential employers to acknowledge its compliance with the laws.
The Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has announced that in the last two years the amount of fines that have been levied against American employers who have not complied with I-9 requirements have risen from .7 million to 7 million dollars.
This amount of fines is expected to continue to rise in the near future as the number of company audits continues to rise. Last year, ICE conducted audits on 2,740 companies, nearly twice as many as the previous year. I expect that number will continue to rise.
Question 20: Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?
Answers will vary. Give the name of one of your state’s U.S. senators who will serve in the 112th Congress beginning January 5, 2011. In New York the Senators are: Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand.
Question 23:Name your U.S. Representative.
Answers will vary. Give the name of your U.S. Representative who will serve in the 112th Congress beginning January 5, 2011.
Question 47:What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
Answer: John Boehner
New Citizenship Certificate Introduced by State Department
The State Department has introduced a new Citizenship Certificate for U.S. citizens born abroad. The new certificate further prevents forgeries and counterfeits from being successfully used. U.S. embassies and Consulates issue the certificates when a U.S. citizen is born abroad and obtained citizen at the time of birth.
New Head of Immigration Sub-Committee in House of Representatives
Representative Elton Gallegly was recently named the new head of the Immigration sub-committee in the House of Representatives. Representative Gallegly’s pick was a surprise to many, however he has extensive experience voting on immigration issues and is viewed as an immigration hawk who is likely to support new immigration enforcement measures.
Chance of Comprehensive Immigration Law Passage?
The likelihood of Comprehensive Immigration Reform is perhaps at the lowest it has been in many years. It is unlikely that any beneficial immigration bills will become law in the near future. The political atmosphere is just too segmented and pre-occupied for there to be any hope of any movement on immigration reform. If any immigration laws are passed, it is more likely to focus on immigration enforcement than balanced immigration solutions.
I wish I had better news, but I do not and will not sugarcoat the situation. As Mayor Bloomberg stated, the current immigration policy is “the most ruinous economic policy you could ever conceive of.”
Chipotle Fires Numerous Undocumented Immigrants in Minneapolis following I-9 audit by ICE. The company faces protesters and possible fines from government.
Deportation of Haitians ResumesFollowing Year of Reprieve Due to Earthquake
Fake Immigration Lawyer from Pawtucket, Rhode Island sentenced to six months in federal prison.
NYC Mayor Bloomberg Urges Immigration Reform
States Taking Up Immigration Enforcement Bills
Immigration Insight is the firm’s immigration blog. The following is a list of the blog posts from the past month.
- H-1B Happenings: GAO Report and Questioning H-1B Fee Legality
- ICE Updates Secure Communities List
- Two New York Counties Join Secure Communities
- USCIS Implements Help Haiti Act of 2010
- DOS Introduces New Citizenship Certificate
- Will Governor Cuomo Continue Immigration Pardon Panel?
- Gov. Paterson Clarifies New York Secure Communities Program
- USCIS Proposes Pre-Registration for H-1B Registration
- Haitian Deportations To Resume This Month
- Naturalization Test Questions Change
- President Obama Talks Immigration
- USCIS Delays Implementation of Export Control Questions on I-129
- Paterson Grants Pardons to 24 Immigrants on Christmas Eve
- New I-129 Form In Use For Nonimmigrant Workers
- How Many K-1 Visas Are Issued Each Year?